There are an estimated 2.2 million Christians in Saudi Arabia. It’s around six per cent of the country’s total population of 35.8 million, the majority of whom are Muslim.
The majority of the Christians in Saudi Arabia are foreigners who temporarily live and work in the country. They can be targeted for their faith, since it's another way to abuse a worker – in an environment where foreign workers are already often subjected to horrific working and living conditions. Foreign Christians are heavily restricted from sharing their faith or gathering for worship, and any actions outside of the norm can lead to detention and deportation. No official churches are allowed, and church buildings are forbidden.
A much smaller number of Christians in the country are originally Saudi Arabian, and these are mostly converts from Islam. They are usually forced to live out their faith in secrecy. Otherwise, female converts risk physical violence and forced marriage by their families, while male converts risk being publicly shamed, beaten or imprisoned. Both men and women may also be killed to ‘restore’ the family honour.
Nevertheless, there have been some Saudi Christians in recent years who have been bold enough to share their faith, at great risk to their lives.
“We thank God for His gifts, and for your standing with us and helping me to safety. I feel that today I can live again.”Adam, a believer who fled Saudi Arabia after being imprisoned for his faith
Adam* grew up a Muslim. He comes from a Yemeni background but has spent most of his life in Saudi Arabia. When Eve*, his sister-in-law, became a Christian four years ago, her family asked Adam to convince her to return to Islam – but her faith inspired Adam to give his life to Jesus.
Since then, Adam has faced multiple charges – including inciting others away from Islam and helping Eve to flee the country because of persecution – and has spent time in prison. Last July, he sent his family abroad while he battled the accusations. A month later, Adam was convinced to join them following a brutal attack that left him severely wounded and visibly discouraged.
“I’d like to thank every brother and sister who prayed for me and contributed to getting us a place to live together,” Adam shares from a safe country where Open Doors local partners are helping the family settle.
“I feel that today I can live again,” Adam says. “Your prayers have been answered. What we need in this world is to turn to God in prayer for the church and for the sake of others. God listens to the true prayers. If we pray, we will feel His presence and we will have His guidance.”
*Names changed for security reasons
Saudi Arabia has dropped one place on the World Watch List, mostly due to a slight decrease in violence against Christians. While in the last year there were no reports of Christians being arrested or forced into marriage, or of Christian houses being attacked, physical violence against converts remains high, and several believers were forced to leave their homes.
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia. Your prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors supports the body of Christ on the Arabian Peninsula by organising prayer, distributing Scripture resources, and training believers and pastors.
Father God, we lift up our brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia. Draw near to secret believers and encourage them in their isolation. Protect those whose Christian faith is known and work in the hearts of their families to cultivate greater acceptance and openness towards You. Bring healing to migrant workers who have endured exploitation and abuse. Make a way for Christians to meet and encourage one another. Amen.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.